Where do you swipe your credit card on an average day? You might start out in the long line at your local Starbucks, waiting for a scone and a low-fat latte. From there you might realize your gas tank is on empty and head to the nearest convenient station for a fill-up. Then it’s lunch with your co-workers, and once you’re off the clock, you need to head to the grocery store to pick up a few items for dinner.
On the weekends, you’re spending on entertainment like movie tickets or buying a new blazer for work or a new pair of running shoes. In some cases, monthly bills like your Netflix account or your gym membership hit your credit card regularly. These are the purchases most people make frequently and consistently, and unfortunately, they’re often overlooked when it comes to credit card rewards.
Many programs focus on airline miles or other travel rewards (hotels, rental cars, etc.) and leave you in the dust when it comes to the purchases you actually make most, like groceries and gas. The good news is, creditors are getting wise and starting to offer incentives to customers who use their cards for smaller purchases day in and day out. If you want to maximize your purchasing power, here are just a few cards that will help you get the greatest value from every dollar spent.
Blue Cash Preferred Card (AMEX)
This card is pretty much universally loved by those who spend a lot on grocery and gas purchases each year. It’s no wonder, considering you’ll enjoy 6% cash back at qualifying U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 in purchases (then 1%), as well as 3% cash back at qualifying U.S. gas stations and department stores, plus 1% for all other purchases. You’ll also get a $200 bonus when you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
There are a couple of things to be aware of. You need to understand what qualifies as a U.S. supermarket, as AMEX doesn’t recognize specialty food stores, warehouse clubs, or superstores like Walmart and Target in this category. There’s also a $95 annual fee, so make sure to take these points into consideration when tallying anticipated returns.
AMEX EveryDay Preferred Credit Card
At first glance, this card might pale in comparison to the Blue Cash Preferred card. However, when used properly, it can actually prove more rewarding because of the way points stack up against percentages for return.
The important distinction is that this card offers 3x points for qualifying purchases at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 in purchases annually, as opposed to the 6% offered by the Blue Cash Preferred card. You’ll also get 2x points at U.S. gas stations. So far, you’ll come out ahead with Blue Cash Preferred.
Where you’ll see greater gains with the EveryDay Preferred card is when you make 30 or more transactions each month. When this happens, you’ll get an additional 50% tacked onto points (or 4.5x points for purchases), and the value exceeds the 6% rate of the Blue Cash Preferred card. If you swipe your card at Starbucks daily, it’s pretty much in the bag.
You’ll also receive 15,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months, but like the Blue Cash Preferred Card, you’ll pay an annual fee of $95.
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
If you dine out just as much as you eat in, this card has you covered with rewards for both grocery stores and restaurants. You’ll earn 4% on dining and entertainment, 2% on groceries, and 1% on everything else, and you’ll get a $500 bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. There’s no annual fee the first year, but after that you’ll pay $95 per year.
Citi Double Cash Card
When you see that this card offers only 1% cash back on purchases, you might not give it a second glance, but it’s not called Double Cash for nothing. You’ll enjoy an additional 1% cash back when you pay off your purchases, for a total of 2% across the board. Plus, there’s no annual fee and you’ll get an introductory APR of 0% for the first 18 months (15.49% - 25.49% after).
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Card (Visa)
It’s kind of a toss-up between this card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which both offer 1.5% cash back on purchases across the board, with no limits on annual spending, and no annual fees. The Chase card offers a $150 bonus for spending $500 in the first three months. Wells Fargo offers $200 for spending $1,000 in the first three months.
However, while the Chase card does offer an introductory APR of 0% for the first 15 months (reverting to a variable APR of 16.74% - 25.49% after), the Wells Fargo card delivers an additional 1.8% cash back during the first 12 months when you use your mobile wallet (Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.), which is like the icing on the cake of convenient spending.
The kicker, though, is that Wells Fargo provides protection for your mobile phone, covering damage and theft, when you pay your cell phone bill with your card. You can also get your cash back rewards from Wells Fargo ATMs, for your convenience.